World Cup 2018: France 2-1 Australia; 3 key battles that decided the game
In what many expected to be a mismatch of dizzying proportions, France struggled to pick up 3 points as it took a late winner from Paul Pogba (which might turn out to be a own goal) to beat Australia 2-1 in their Group C match.
The first half ended 0-0, and just when it looked like we would be seeing the first such result of this WC, VAR interfered to award France a penalty that was coolly converted by Griezmann. 3 minutes later, Umtiti's handball lead to the Aussie equaliser, before Pogba's lob grabbed all three points for the French.
As always, there were a few individual battles that went a long way in deciding the final outcome of the match. Here's a look at 3 of them:
#1 Paul Pogba vs Aaron Mooy
In the battle of the playmakers, Pogba edged out by virtue of scoring the winner but until then it was Aaron Mooy who was the more involved of the lot. After a few misplaced passes that invited subdued jeers from the travelling French fans, Pogba scored a beauty to beat Ryan. Or at the very least, was responsible for it.
The ball bounced off the toe end of his boot, took a deflection and lobbed over a backward diving keeper, before grazing the underside of the cross-bar and bouncing out. But the whole of the ball had crossed the line, which was confirmed by VAR later.
Aaron Mooy, unlike Pogba who had Kante to do his dirty work, had to help out in defense as well as in offense. He dropped deep to make interceptions, collect balls and then let his runners chase after his long balls - which is impossible for one man to do over the entire 90 minutes.
This Paul Pogba goal might silence some of the fans who were asking that he be left on the bench and play Matuidi instead even if it gets awarded as an own goal because he was there at the right time.